the man who knew too much
dir. alfred hitchcock
The first Beyond Rosebud entry from Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography is The Man Who Knew Too Much, his 1934 crime drama surrounding a married couple whose daughter is kidnapped a result of their learning of a plan to assassinate a world leader.
Hitchcock would remake the film himself twenty years later (we’ll review that one when the time comes), and thought both versions to each have their merits. He once said that the original was “the work of a talented amateur, and the second was made by a professional.” The promise of directorial skill is undeniable in this feature, though it is certainly not his best; the story is sluggish, the performances half-baked (Peter Lorre, star of M and the main villain in the film, couldn’t speak a word of English, delivering his lines phonetically and sounding like Dr. Strangelove in the process). You get the feeling that the director knows what he wants, but isn’t able to will it out of what’s given to him.
Criterion Spine #643